I was having a conversation with a friend the other night when we got onto the topic of holidays. We both love to travel and do it as often as our stupidly busy Lib Dem lives allow. Indeed we've had some amazing trips away together, a blissful long weekend in Shetland springs to mind, but this is unnecessary detail that I'm including only because I know the person in question will read this ;)
Anyway, the discussion got me thinking. I'm incredibly lucky that when I was growing up both of my parents were in well paid jobs. We had some amazing holidays and stayed in some stunning hotels. We still do. That rubbed off on me in a big way. If I'm travelling somewhere, no matter for how long, I demand a certain level of comfort. I cannot abide camping or youth hostels. I'll stay in budget chains when the need arises but I'd prefer not to. I have turned into a proper middle class hotel snob. And you know what? It doesn't bother me in the slightest!
So here are some top tips for places I've stayed that are, quite frankly, amazing. Hotels which are worth planning your holidays around just to stay there. They're not geographically balanced in any way - if you like Orlando and/or New York you'll like this list - but they are all just brilliant. In no particular order...
Hilton Manchester Deansgate
If you've got a train through Manchester recently you'll know what this hotel looks like. It's a sleek and beautiful glass structure with a gravity defying shape. I stayed there for a weekend in March - whilst watching Anton and Erin's last tour - and it was fab. The rooms are gorgeous, the service is perfect, but the abiding memory I'll have of this place is the bar, Cloud 23. Home of the best, and strongest, cocktails I've ever tasted you have to go to this bar at some point in your life. Grab a seat by the window and enjoy the Manchester skyline whilst getting implausibly drunk on beautiful drinks. And if you can work seeing Anton into your evening then more's the better!
|Le Meridien, Barcelona. Not pictured: epic walk in wardrobe!|
Stunning and huge rooms in an amazing location - right on Las Ramblas, not that you'd know it thanks to some genius double glazing - this is one of the best hotels in the world in one of the best cities in the world. I am not exaggerating when I say that the walk in wardrobe in the room we had is bigger than my current (double) bedroom. Also worth a mention is the amazing breakfast which includes free champagne. Natch.
The Waldorf Astoria, New York
World famous and justly so. We stayed at the Waldorf the summer after 9/11 when a lot of the rooms were still covered in dust. Indeed the first room they put us in was covered in dust! When their mistake was pointed out, though, the level of service and apology we received was second to none and included a free limo - with full free bar - to the airport. Sadly I was too young to partake, but it still qualifies as the most rock and roll thing I've ever done! The rooms here are even bigger than Le Meridien. The one we had had a separate lounge (not a suite, just a standard room) and the biggest bathroom I've ever seen. I also had the best meal I've ever had at the Bull and Bear Steakhouse in the hotel. It was for my parents' 30th wedding anniversary (and was eyewateringly expensive!) but OHMIGOD it was the best food I've ever eaten.
The Drake Swissotel, New York
Another favourite in NYC. A great location - near Trump Tower, my favourite place to have breakfast in the city - and a completely exemplary level of service. This was the first time I'd ever experienced the wonder that is a turn down service (where the maid comes in and turns down the bedding and the dimmer switches ready for you to got to bed), completely with a posh mint. The Swissotel will always have a special place in my heart as it's where we stayed the first time we even went to NYC: a city I now love so completely.
Hard Rock Hotel, Universal Resort Orlando
The most comfortable and funky rooms ever. All monochrome and arty prints with some kick ass media details including, as you might expect, an amazing sound system. Such an amazing atmosphere and brilliant service. Also has the coolest pool ever complete with an underwater sound system. Achingly cool but not pretentious, we're planning a return visit in summer 2012.
Peabody Hotel, Orlando
The Peabody chain is famous for having a resident of flock of ducks who live in a palace on the roof who parade into and out of the hotel every day in the company of a duckmaster. Seriously. Mad? Yes. Awesome? Yes! I love this hotel not only because of the ducks though. It has the most comfortable (and tallest!) beds I've ever slept in. The whole hotel is just beautiful and has the best waffles I've ever tasted. They've just expanded, and I'd love to go back to check out the expansion.